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Cincinnati-based North American Properties closed Wednesday on its $16.8 million purchase of 16.5 acres on the northern end of International Drive. Located directly south of Orlando International Premium Outlets, the group is lining up LOIs from national restaurants and hotels, and should break ground on horizontal site work in January, a partner with the company told GrowthSpotter.

Located at 5504 W. Oak Ridge Road, the land lies in the path of the I-4 Ultimate project‘s new flyover bridge that will link neighboring Grand National Drive across the interstate to Caravan Court, a block from one of the main entrances of Universal Orlando. The flyover is expected to open in Summer 2017.

“Next we’ll be designing the infrastructure and submitting for permits,” partner Shawn McIntyre said Wednesday. “We’ll install that infrastructure in one phase, and by that time we’ll have leases or sales contracts signed with third party users.”

North American serves as its own general contractor on vertical construction, but will hire a general contractor to lead the horizontal site work, he added.

GrowthSpotter first reported on March 21 the developer had a contract on the property. The acquisition made Wednesday was in cash, with no mortgage acquired.

The four contiguous parcels had been owned for a decade by principals of Winter Park-based multi-family developer Douglas Partners, for which they paid $7.3 million in November 2006.

Preston Hage, first vice president for Land Services at CBRE Orlando, represented the sellers along with Bobby Palta, first vice president for Retail Services. Palta’s past relationship with North American Properties helped introduce them to the deal last year, he said Wednesday.

North American’s Master Plan was approved by Orlando’s City Council last week for 130,000 square feet of retail/dining space, 20,000 square feet of medical office/clinic use, 800 hotel rooms and a 350-unit apartment complex.

The company’s final use may come in below that, but they’re aiming high now, and can fall back on the precedent of a previously approved master plan for the site that includes 1,750 multi-family units, an 800-room hotel and 100,000 square feet of ground-level retail.

“We’re negotiating leases with a few users, but we are open to all potential users at this point,” McIntyre said. “We’ll spend the next four to five months working to secure up to 80 percent of the site. We usually leave 20 percent open, because once you build other opportunities come along.”

North American will feature the property at ICSC’s Florida Conference & Deal Making, Aug. 21-23 in Orlando.

The two hotels will likely be full-service at 10 stories or more with at least 250 keys each, and the Class A multi-family development could be 250 units or more.

Parking structures with up to four stories each will be necessary to meet demand not just from the hotels and apartments, but primarily the five retail outparcels. McIntyre believes those could attract national restaurants chains that will build large prototype units of 8,000-10,000 square feet.

Directly north, Simon Property Group has been surveying and studying its 77 acres at Premium Outlets to potentially build a parking garage and expand its retail footprint, GrowthSpotter reported in early January.

North American Properties has been an active developer of Publix-anchored shopping plazas in Florida, and is the developer behind Seminole Towne Center in Sanford and Sodo in Downtown Orlando.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.